Since 2000, there have been many developments in the field of non-discrimination in Europe and one of the most significant one certainly was the adoption of the Race Equality Directive (2000/43/EC) in 2000. This ‘new generation’ equal treatment instrument extended legal protection against discrimination beyond the ground of gender. It revolutionised the equality infrastructure by requiring all Member States and candidate countries to designate national equality bodies to promote equal treatment and support victims of discrimination.

On 29 June 2020, an online conference took place to celebrate its 20th anniversary, organised by Equinet – European Network of Equality Bodies together with the European Commission, the General Secretariat of the Council of the EU and the Croatian Presidency of the Council of the EU.

„Equality bodies work directly with people and cases and thereby can change individual realities. But they also report on the discrimination occurrences, the combination of which makes equality bodies so well placed to catch and report on what is happening on the ground. Likewise, they have the potential to be key conduits for better implementation of legislation, to aid translating into actual change all the work done at the European and the international levels, including by various institutions”, said Tena Šimonović Einwalter, deputy Ombudswoman and Equinet Chair.

“Over the past 20 years, equality bodies in the EU, equipped with robust legal tools, have boosted equality across Europe, triggering positive changes at societal, institutional and individual levels. But recent events, such as the ‘Black Lives Matter’ protests, show that big challenges remain deeply rooted in Europe. Today, our main goal is to strengthen the adequate application of the Race Equality Directive and to ensure that equality bodies are well equipped to perform their tasks independently, effectively and efficiently”, said Helena Dalli, EU Commissioner for Equality.

Equality2020 brought together a panel of high-level speakers to discuss current challenges and future vision of equality in Europe. They also discussed how equality has evolved in the past 20 years, what barriers currently block citizens from equal opportunities in all aspects of their lives, and how we can improve the lives of Europeans in the future. As part of the conference, a joint statement was made by the organizers – ”Protecting and promoting equality as a fundamental value of the EU: 20th anniversary of the Race Equality Directive” and some of the major policy and legislative highlights during the past 20 years are shown in this Timeline.

Source: Equinet